Chicago Schoolteacher Raises Funds for Her Students Midair

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Desirée Patno is the CEO and President of Women in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) and Desirée Patno Enterprises, Inc. (DPE). With almost three decades specializing in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem, she leads her executive team’s expertise of championing women’s economic growth and independence.

One of the reasons we selected Chicago for our 2018 Conference: Year of Women is despite pervasive issues of crime and poverty, many Chicago citizens care about and work to make a difference in their community. They push their city to do better by its less fortunate residents as it grows as a center of commerce, technology, and the arts.

This love many Chicagoans have for their city was manifested midair on a recent Southwest flight when a fellow passenger asked Chicago school teacher Kimber Bermudez about what she does for a living.

The young educator told her seatmate that despite loving her job, it was heartbreaking teaching children, many of whom are from immigrant and lower-income families and who don’t have their basic needs met.

Teachers taking money out of their own pocket to meet their student’s needs has become a common occurrence in the U.S. In a survey released this year by the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Department of Education found that 94% of teachers spend their own money on school and related supplies that are not reimbursed.

And a short while ago, Target announced a teacher prep event through tomorrow offering a 15% discount on “select classroom supplies.” An instructor who wishes to remain anonymous told us many of her colleagues are conflicted; appreciating the discount but uneasy with the idea that teachers spending their own money on school supplies has become so commonplace it is being commercially exploited.

In the Department of Education survey, 88% of public charter school teachers reported spending out-of-pocket on supplies for their students. And that includes charter school teachers like Ms. Bermudez who instructs 32 first-grade students at Carlos Fuentes Charter School in Chicago.

Bermudez was therefore touched when the man to whom she was speaking asked for her contact information so that he could get his company involved in helping her students out.

She became further moved when a man seated behind them, who had listened in on their conversation, handed her a wad of cash ($500)  to use for her students. Upon landing, she received additional money from two other passengers who also overheard, bringing the donation up to $530. Bermudez told USA Today she plans to use the money to buy books for her students in both English and Spanish.

“When the world seems crazy, there are always good people,” she said at the end of her Facebook post detailing the heartwarming event. Since its posting, Ms. Bermudez’s account of the generosity of her fellow passengers has had over 22,000 shares. Clearly, her story of the generosity of strangers and the ability of her passion to win over hearts and open wallets has struck a chord.

We are honored to host our conference in a city with people like Kimber Bermudez and the kind strangers on the plane who donated. Their generosity and commitment to the community is an inspiration.

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